Cowboys Land Small-School Star in Webb

The Dallas Cowboys spent much of the first two drafts bolstering their offense, spending three of their first four draft picks on offensive players.

In the fourth round, they made it two defensive picks in a row when they selected William & Mary cornerback B.W. Webb.

The 5-10, 184-pound Webb becomes the second William & Mary player drafted in the NFL in the last four years. The first will be there to welcome him in the Dallas locker room: Cowboys' defensive lineman Sean Lissemore, who was picked by Dallas in the seventh round of the 2010 draft.

"When I first got here I was actually scared of him, this big, quiet guy, but as the year went on me and him got along great and even when I got down to Dallas he came and saw me when I was at the facility," Webb said. "I definitely kept in contact with him."

Webb has good speed (4.51 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine) and excellent jumping ability — his 40.5-inch vertical jump and 11-0 broad jump tied for the best marks among all defensive backs at the Combine. His 20-yard shuttle (in which he ran a 3.84) and 60-yard shuttle (11.06) also were among the best times put up by any defensive back at the Combine.

He was overlooked coming out of high school, signing with the only school that offered him a scholarship. In 44 games with the Tribe, he picked off 11 passes, including eight in his freshman season, which ranked him second among FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) players and three (one of which he returned for a touchdown) in his first college game, an upset of Virginia. After his freshman year (in which he also recorded his other touchdown on an interception return), many schools gameplanned to throw the ball to the opposite side of the field.

Webb also is an electric return specialist, although he had limited opportunities in his senior year. In 2012, he returned 11 kickoffs for 181 yards (16.5 yards per return) and he returned 11 punts — William & Mary opponents only punted 12 times all year — for 123 yards (11.2 per), including a 91-yard touchdown.

For his efforts, Webb was named the Colonial Athletic Association's Defensive Freshman of the Year, second-team All-CAA as a cornerback and third-team All-CAA as a punt returner. He earned first-team all-conference honors in his sophomore, junior and senior season, and was named CAA Co-Special Teams Player of the Year in 2012.

"It was very competitive," Webb said of the Colonial Athletic Association. "It's one of the best conferences in 1-AA ball. There is a lot of great athletes that come out of that division. There is definitely some ball players down here so you can't really overlook the CAA."

Webb can run and jump with just about any receiver he'll face, and he has excellent closing speed, whether when chasing a receiver on a deep route or racing forward to break up a short passing play. He has room to get stronger — although for a player his size, the 14 repetitions he did on the NFL-standard 225-pound bench press aren't bad — but he plays with a lot of aggression and intelligence. He impressed scouts with his footwork, and made a lot of plays (either interceptions or simply knocking the ball away) by baiting the quarterback with loose coverage and then reading the quarterback to time his forward acceleration. Most scouts agree that he has excellent hands and ball skills, and while he lacks ideal bulk — so far, at least — he is willing to challenge bigger offensive players with aggressive tackling.

For the time being, he is a candidate to be a backup cornerback behind starters Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, and third corner Orlando Scandrick. In terms of his size, he's closest to Claiborne, but physically he looks more like Scandrick with his lanky build. He likely will work first on covering receivers in the slot, and if he can bulk up a little more, his speed, jumping ability and ball skills could allow him to play on the outside, as well.

For all of the accolades Webb has earned because of his interceptions, pass breakups and big plays in the return game, he said he still takes extensive pride in his ability to tackle, despite his slender frame.

"I'm coming up; I'm throwing my body with this 184-pound frame wherever it needs to go," Webb said. "No matter who is carrying the ball, I'm coming down making those tackles."

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